Biography - Douglas Martin

DOUGLAS G. MARTIN, Principal of Schools at Belknap, is a young man of acknowledged talent and ability as a teacher, and by his devotion to his profession is influential in raising the standard of education in his native county, thus conferring upon it a lasting benefit. He was born March 19, 1862, on the old homestead in Cache Township, and is a son of Naaman Martin, who was a pioneer of that township, and for many years one of its leading farmers in the matter of developing its agricultural resources.
Naaman Martin was a native of Tennessee, born in October, 1809. His father was Obadiah Martin, who at an early day removed from Tennessee to Kentucky, and was a pioneer farmer in both those States. Naaman Martin had no chance to obtain an education in the schools of his day, which were of the subscription order, and his father was too poor to pay his tuition; but he by no means grew up in ignorance, as he was a bright lad, with a keen eye and an impressionable mind, and learned many a practical lesson that was of value to him in after life, acquiring a wide knowledge of men and affairs where others would have failed to do so. He was early inured to hard work on his father's farm and to the hardships and trials incident to pioneer life. At the age of twenty he left his father's home to seek his fortunes in the more newly settled State of Illinois, and making his way to what is now Johnson County, he at once went to work for a farmer. He was absolutely penniless, but he was brave of heart, strong of hand, had a clear brain, and possessed in a remarkable degree two essentials for success under the circumstances in which he was placed — industry and economy. He continued to work for small wages, although the best given at the time, for a number of years, keeping constantly in view the object of making a home and securing a competence, so that when he desired to many he had saved a considerable amount of money, comprising several hundred dollars of ready cash. His judgment was not at all at fault at this important juncture in life, as subsequent years proved, for in the selection of Temperance Axley for a wife he found a true helpmate indeed. She was a native of Johnson County, of which her ancestors were very early settlers, their settlement here dating back to 1812, before the county had been thought of and when Illinois was still a Territory. Descending the Ohio in a dug-out, they landed at Cache Township, and found themselves in a wilderness, where the red men still reigned and wild animals abounded.
After marriage Mr. Martin and his bride moved into a primitive log cabin, and commenced farming on rented land. They began in the humblest way, and all their furniture was plain and inexpensive, their table consisting of a dry-goods box. For eight years they worked hard, and managed to lay by money after the rent was paid, and at the end of that time they took up a homestead claim of a quarter-section of heavily timbered land in Cache Township, built a log cabin in the forests, and commenced the making of a home of their own in that then sparsely settled region. Mr. Martin worked with unremitting energy to clear his land, burning up fine timber to make room to plant his crops, and developing a fine farm, with good improvements. And there he and his family continued to live in peace and comfort for many years, although for a long time they were restricted in their mode of life by their pioneer environments, which did not permit of many social advantages, and, until the country became more thickly populated, there were no schools or churches; but such a life had many compensations. In 1858, at the persuasion of his brother, who was in Missouri, Mr. Martin sold his property here and, moving to that State, bought a good farm in Scott County. Notwithstanding they were pleasantly situated and the country was fine, he and his wife missed the old associations so strongly formed during the years of struggle and sacrifice amid pioneer scenes, and were so discontented in their new home they sold it, and returning to Johnson County bought a farm adjoining the old home-stead, and happily and serenely passed their remaining days thereon. It was unimproved when they took possession, and they again took up their abode in a cabin. Mr. Martin renewed his fight with the forces of nature, cleared his land, made of it a good home and farm, and had it well stocked. Death closed his labors October 19, 1869, at the age of sixty years, and deprived the county of the services of a citizen who had been a useful factor in its upbuilding. His wife passed away in 1883. The farm is still in the possession of the family, being occupied by the eldest son.
The parents of our subject had sixteen children: Betsy, deceased: William, who was in the army, serving as a member of Company G, Eleventh Illinois Infantry, and died for his country at Memphis; Alexander, who is engaged in farming on the old home place; Robert, who was also a soldier in Company G, Eleventh Illinois Infantry, during the war, and is now a resident of Belknap; Owen, a physician at Belknap; Henry, deceased; Sarah, who married Joseph Eddleman, and is now dead; Martha, wife of H. Morrell, of Ft. Smith, Ark.; George Washington, a farmer in Union County; Andrew Jackson and Francis, deceased; Jehu, a farmer in Belknap Township; Samuel and Nannie, deceased; John, a farmer in Johnson County; and Douglas, of whom we write.
Douglas Martin attended the common schools in the winter seasons and worked on his father's farm summers until he was twenty-one, when his mother died, and he then turned his attention to the more congenial pursuit of teaching, entering upon his professional career at Belknap, and he has taught ever since, except when attending school to perfect himself in various branches. He was especially well trained for his vocation in the State Normal, at Emporia, Kan., and at the Normal University at Salina, in the same State, two of the best institutions in the West for the equipment of teachers. After teaching three years in Illinois Mr. Martin went to Kansas, and taught the same length of time at Alma, in Wabaunsee County, and while there he was united in marriage with Miss Bertha Lyons, a native of Kansas, whose parents were from Pennsylvania. Their pleasant wedded life has brought, to them one child, whom they have named Victor Vivian.
Our subject lived in Cowley County, Kan., for a while after marriage, and also in Sumner County, where he taught two years. His people were very desirous to have him come back to live among them once more, and returning to the familiar scenes of his youth in Johnson County, in March, 1892, he was offered the Principalship of the schools of Belknap, which he accepted, and is ably filling the office to the manifest advantage of the educational interests of the village. As an instructor he is second to none in the profession in the county, and the citizens of Belknap have reason to congratulate themselves on obtaining his services in training the intellect and helping to mould the character of their children, and so fitting them for the better performance of their duties in after-life. Mr. Martin is a gentleman of irreproachable habits, of a strong nature, and has a broad outlook on life. He and his amiable wife stand high in social circles, and are identified with all movements for the uplifting of the community. They are active in church matters and are Sunday-school workers, he having a class in the school connected with the church which they attend. In politics, our subject is with the Republicans.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 597-598.

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